Vincent van Gogh Foundation, Alres
Tuesday 09 Dec 2014
The complete renovation of a former private mansion in Arles exactly responded to the Foundation's desire to bring a contemporary perspective on the work of Vincent van Gogh to life.
A completely original artistic project - to summon the genius of Van Gogh through the works of twentieth and twenty-first century artists. A historic place - in the heart of an area painted by the master and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site: the 2,400 sq. m of the Léautaud de Donines mansion, built in the fifteenth century and held since 1924 by the Bank of France. And finally, the technical specifications demanded by the most prestigious museums. Faced with these requirements, this renovation and extension was organized around another major character: the particular light of Arles, so dear to Van Gogh.
Exchanges. The architectural project tapped into the core of the Foundation's artistic mission: to create exchanges. Starting with the conversations between Van Gogh - (absent from the collection but the light and the site of Arles make him the vector) - and the artists: Bertrand Lavier with his sliding entrance wall, Raphael Hefti, with his coloured glass sculpture on the roof of the bookshop, and Fritz Hauser, who created the stairwell.
Natural daylight, guides the reorganization of exhibition volumes and space (1000 sq. m), designed with exceptional modularity to best serve the works of art, and in rigorous relationship with conservation requirements. Throughout the visitor's experience, there are colourful projections on the immaculate walls of the reception area and gift shop, an extension of the glass above the entrance in the courtyard.
To attract, house, protect, and promote the most coveted works of art: the ambition of the Van Gogh Foundation describes the technical stakes of the project. With the support of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which consulted and assisted the general contractor on issues of security, safety and conservation, this renovation incorporated international museum standards to create a jewelled display case able to convince the most demanding and prestigious art lenders.
Arranged in a conscious disorder on the roof of the gift shop and lobby, itself made of glass, the 78 glass plates are suspended above the entry with varying degrees of opacity and reflectiveness. Of all different sizes and colours, they make the light dance on the walls and into the courtyard following the passage of the sun.
By absorbing ultraviolet rays, they also help maintain a temperate climate inside the space.